(Reuters) - Facing Europe’s most potent strikeforce would cause some managers to man the barricades but for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola there was only one option in Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Monaco - “attack, attack, attack”.
As it turned out, it proved to be a remarkably effective strategy as City came out on top in an epic 5-3 tussle, clinging on to the coat-tails of their opponents before drawing clear in the closing stages of their last 16, first-leg tie.
There was perhaps a risk in going toe-to-toe with a team who have scored 76 goals in 26 domestic French league games and had already soared past the century in all competitions this season, but the gamble paid off handsomely.
Goals from Raheem Sterling and a double from Sergio Aguero kept City in the encounter, before late efforts from John Stones and Leroy Sane saw them pull clear ahead of the second leg in the principality on March 15.
“We think in attack. Attack, attack, attack,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
“Monaco score maybe 80 goals in one season and attack with a lot of people. They are physically strong and are a top, top team. That’s why they’re top of the league. That’s why we take a lot of credit with this result.”
The match will go down as one of the greatest Champions League encounters of the modern era and for City, a side with little European pedigree, will help build a bank of experience they can use to help them develop, Guardiola said.
The Spaniard’s last two clubs - Barcelona and Bayern Munich - have won 10 European Cups between them, but his latest charges are relative novices among Europe’s elite, having only last season got past the round of 16 for the first time.
“For our future as a club, to live this kind of experience will help us a lot,” Guardiola said.
“Monaco has more history than us in the competition and you need this kind of experience to learn and improve. Of course anything can happen in Monaco and we have to score goals.”
Neither side’s defence covered themselves in glory during a match that was riddled with errors at the back, while both teams scored due to goalkeeping howlers.
Monaco striker Radamel Falcao also missed a penalty in a match where the overall goal tally could have reached double figures, such was the open-ended nature of the game.
Despite finishing on the losing side, however, there were few regrets for Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim, who is confident his side can still go through over the two legs.
“The first thing I’ll say is that maybe this was one of the most incredible matches in the Champions League this season,” he told reporters.
”It’s great for the fans as I’m sure they were happy to watch such quality attacks and eight goals. I think Monaco played really well and I’ve congratulated the players.
“We’ve still got 90 minutes to play and it’s far from over.”
Writing by Toby Davis; editing by Ken Ferris